The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


Student or Athlete?

Students participating in club sports find balance between academics and athletics
Photo by Nina VanOtteren
Anna Rensing (12) performs alongside Anna Dean (11) in the multicultural assembly Feb. 2 as part of the dance team routine in the auditorium.

Noah Christlieb (10) has been dancing since he was 3 years old. He loved being able to express himself on stage and getting to connect with new people through dance.

Since then, Christlieb has joined the school dance team as well as dancing competitively for Premiere Dance Company.

“I love the people at my studio, they’re all really nice.” Christlieb said, “For me personally, I like having really strong technique and it’s a really technique-heavy studio so it’s perfect for me.”

If you’ve ever played a school sport you might know that balancing sports and school can be hard. However, participating in a sport that’s not run through the school can make it even harder to find time for schoolwork.

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Athletes who compete outside of the school team typically have extensive training schedules. The schedules can get even more complicated when trying to participate in a school and club sport at the same time. 

Christlieb dances five days a week: three days for his studio and two days for the school dance team. 

“The biggest difference between the two for me is that the school dance team is all about performing for an audience, so it’s more of fun moves meant for a crowd. Then dancing at my studio is about doing harder moves and it’s more individual.”

Anna Rensing (12) also dances at Premiere Dance Company as well as the school dance team. Her love for dance started in kindergarten and hasn’t wavered since. 

I like how much fun I’ve had with it,” Rensing said. “ I’ve made a lot of new friends, traveled to a lot of places, and I just enjoy it.”

Rensing loves to dance, but she recognizes there are some significant differences between the school dance team and her competitive dance team.

“The school team is more for fun and a lot less demanding,” Rensing said. “It’s definitely more for enjoyment and entertainment purposes rather than like hardcore practices.”

Rensing’s dance schedule has proven to be very full. She practices five days a week and often competes on weekends. Some days, she can have competitive dance practices for up to four hours. But she doesn’t view it as a burden or an annoyance. Rensing’s personal goal is to dance in college next year, and she knows hard work must be put in if she wants to achieve her goal.

What makes all the hard work and long nights worth it for her is the joy and sense of accomplishment dance brings her. It’s also a good way to spend time and connect with friends.

Despite her intensive schedule, Rensing has learned to find balance. She suggests planning out your week in advance and using a planner or calendar to help maintain stability.

Another athlete, Amerie Walsh (9) also sometimes finds it hard to maintain a balance between training and schoolwork

Walsh always wanted to be a gymnast, but because of it being a very strenuous sport, her parents were hesitant to sign her up. So around seven or eight, she started to teach herself gymnastics via YouTube. Her parents started to notice her talent and had no choice but to put her in gymnastics classes. 

“I like that gymnastics is challenging and I can be with my friends,” Walsh said. “I love how it feels when you accomplish stuff in it.”

Walsh has now been training for around six years. She practices five days a week for a total of over 23 hours. She has competitions about every other week. Competitions are typically held around the Midwest in places like Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. 

“At times I think it can be hard to train and do school,” Walsh said. “Like sometimes I’ll have to miss practice for homework and stuff. It’s like I can’t do either of them 100% because I’m stressing about the other thing.”

Students like Walsh who participate in club sports may have to worry about keeping the balance between school and sports more so than athletes in school sports do. They have different expectations and limitations, which can get in the way of other obligations such as school. High school athletes are always told they are “student-athletes” because school comes first, but club sports coaches may not have the same mindset for their athletes.

“It can be hard to balance school and gymnastics, but the feeling of succeeding in both makes everything worth it,” Walsh said.

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About the Contributors
Olin Moyer
Olin Moyer, Staff Writer
Olin Moyer is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Olin's favorite thing about journalism is finding out people's stories.  When she's not in the newsroom, Olin plays water polo, soccer, and swims.
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi, Staff Writer
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Omolola's favorite thing about journalism is hearing everyones stories and experiences, she believes that they deserve to be heard and journalism gives her a chance to do that.   When she's not in the newsroom, Omolola plays basketball, runs track, goes to the gym, and enjoys shopping.
Nina VanOtteren
Nina VanOtteren, Photography Editor
Nina is a member of the Class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait. This is her second year on staff as a junior. Nina’s favorite thing about journalism is being able to inform others about things going on through different perspectives. When she is not in the newsroom, Nina loves skiing, spending time with friends and playing soccer.

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